Microsoft has just wrapped upits MS Ignite conference in Atlanta. MS Ignite, whichmorphed from Microsoft’sTechEd conference, is the conference at whichMicrosoft traditionally announces and GAsitsnewest products and deliversitstechnical strategy announcements. The latest conferencehas not been a disappointment. This year, as expected for a tech conference, it is all about cloud, cloud, and more cloud, with a smattering of AI thrown in.
As expected, the general availability of windowsServer 2016 was announced. This is a milestone release for the company and arguably as important for it as the introduction ofActive Directory in 2000. The releaseis filled with new features includingStorage Spaces Direct (think VSAN); Nano Server (think ESXi); containers, including the commercial Docker Engine at no extra cost; PowerShell 5.0;and enhancements to Hyper-V and generation 2 virtual machines. My only lament is that Azure Stack is not in the initial release, having been given a second Technical Preview release. More on this in a later post. Microsoftalso GA’d System Center 2016, again with a slew of new features.
Azure is growing, and it is the only global cloud that is licensed to run in China. Ithas announced a partnership with Adobe. This is interesting, as Adobe is a wide user of multiple cloud vendors. Personally, I feel that Adobe’s adoption of Azure as a platform is a better move for Adobe than for Microsoft. Adobegets a globally accessible platform, with points of access in all major regions and the majority of first-world countries. MS does get a tier-one customer to shout about, though. Google has itsDropbox; Amazon has itsNetflix. MS now hasAdobe to add to iCloud, amongst others. Microsoft offers a compelling cloud story. Itis one of the few major players that will be able to offer an on-premises solution when Azure Stack is fully available;hybrid, again when Azure Stack is fully available; and public cloud: pure Azure. VMware iscurrently the only other major vendor that can offer these, although there are rumors that AWS and Google Cloud are looking to move from a pure public play to providing hybrid and on-premises capabilities. Microsoft’sofferings arecoupled with a management interface that is easy to understand forthe thousands of Microsoft-trained infrastructure engineers and theready base of Office 365 and OneDrive users.
The conference also includeda smattering of announcements aboutupdates to products. Exchange 2016 is getting a revamp, with new features to bring it to parity with Office 365’s version: things like Groups, SharePoint integration, and better inbox management. OneDrive is being updated with encryption, RMS, DLP, auditing and tracking, compliance, and remediation, making it a real player in the file synchronization market space.
What is more interesting is where Nadella thinks Microsoft’s future is. In hiskeynote, he focused on AI, talking about using neural nets to helpproducts like Cortana make better decisions based on verbal input. OneNote is becoming more intelligent at reading handwriting, hesaid.It wasdemoed on a surface device, reading a math formula and correctly solving it. That said, I will be impressed if OneNote can read my spider scrawl. Nadellaconcentrated on the ability of machines to better enable our capacityto understand the ever-growing plethora of information that is being stored across the world, gathered from an increasingnumber of sources. His keynotes impress me in the same way that Steve Jobs’s keynotes did, and in a way that Balmer never managed to pull off.
Now, I have said this before, but it needs to be reiterated. What impresses me about Microsoft is how much the behemoth of a company has turned itself around under the leadership of Nadella. In just over twoyears, the Microsoft of Balmer has becomealmost unrecognizable.Azure has becomea true cloud player and not the joke it used to be, and the companydevelops new operating systems that actually improve and give value rather than confusing everybody with an interface that noone can understand. What is most surprising is the embracing of open source, SQL on linux, PowerShell on Linux and MacOS, and Bash on Windows.
These are the things that make Microsoft exciting again. These are what has turned the ship away from the iceberg it was sailing toward. Even renaming the conference from TechEd to MS Ignite was inspirational. It has allowed the conference to morph into a more encompassing one. Yes, the messaging was Microsoft, but there was an openness that is refreshing. I think the future is bright for Microsoft again.Share this Article:
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